Is God a Bigamist?

17 07 2008

I think that Doolally’s post Is God a Bigamist? deserves a bit more consideration for one reason… it’s an excellent question.

I mean the bible is literally chock full of God Romance, isn’t it? All through the narrative in the Old Testament we see God pursuing His people like a lover pursuing a flirting, impetuous girl. In the prophets we see God’s jealousy and anger at her waywardness, so easily abandoning her covenant with Him. And Song of Songs is so sexually explicit that it should be rated.
In the New Testament it’s a little more doctrinal but the same theme carries straight on. Right up till Revelations where we find what can only be described as the consummation of a great marriage – The Wedding Feast of all wedding feasts. God, it turns out, will get married to His people.

Well then, is Doolally not right? After all there are many people, and only one God.
Yes, Doolally is right, but not in the way she describes, she stops too soon, at an observed religious devotion. Doolally is describing religious monasticism – nuns and monks, as if there was a choice between marrying a person and marrying God. As if God was jealous somehow of human sexual intimacy and only those sexually pure enough get to marry God.

I don’t blame Doolally for this view, it’s the default presentation of the church to the world (in fact I feel like I should apologise for it). But thankfully, it’s not the biblical view. And when one looks it becomes very obvious as to why forced celibacy for the clergy is the wrong approach in Christianity.
It’s not even biblical; the first four verses of 1 Timothy 4 calls it a demonic doctrine taught by “hypocritical liars”.
Celibacy itself may not be wrong for an individual, in fact I would think for some marriage would be completely wrong, but to force those serving in the church to remain single is about as unbiblical as one can get. It’s in the same league as the Crusades. And Doolally is spot on when she says: “By denying sex to priests, the church is creating its own problems.” More accurately by denying the human covenant of marriage to priests; with all the warmth, friendship, honesty and intimacy that goes with it (including sex); the church is creating its own problems.
I’ts so anti-biblical that I cannot see how such a place can even be called a church.

The answer to the accusation of Divine bigamy is, I believe, found in a little mystery we call “unity”. Another thread running through scripture from Adam & Eve through the tower of Babel right into the New Testament and on to the same Marriage Consummation. God is not marrying a multiple personality disorder, He is marrying one bride. How that will work I only have little personal glimpses.
I can see that my wife and I can sometimes be ‘one’. the way we talk and think (some people say we even look like eachother). As time goes on we get better and better at it; and it’s not all sexual ‘oneness’ I’m talking about – although that tends to be the oneness foremost in my mind… what can I say, I’m a man.
If unity exists in a Platonic sense – there must be an ultimate Unity. If there is an ultimate Unity, then the Bride of God would be it.
Why are there many of us, not just one? Why did God not leave that rib in Adam? Why go to all the trouble of taking it out, making a woman and then presenting her to him, and then calling them “one flesh”? Adam was ‘one flesh’ in the beginning, what’s the added complication all about?
It’s about Unity, it’s a reminder, the whole Adam/Eve narrative is a metaphor. Keeping Adam single would have been very pragmatic (and he would not have known the difference)… but there would have been no human relationship, no intimacy… and no sex.
Forced sexual denial by religious celibacy ultimately means absolutely nothing except perhaps confusion and frustration. Paul puts it quite well in 1 Corinthians 15:19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” More so for those who don’t even get to have sex in the hope that their religious piety will somehow give them favour with God!

Now by extension we cannot conclude that if forced religious celibacy is wrong then animal, pheromonal sex – ‘whenever and with whomever’ sex – is logically right. An excess of Stoicism does not vindicate a lifestyle Hedonism.
I would suggest that if you are going to look for a biblical model of sexuality you are going to find sexual pleasures that are more satisfying and lasting than your wildest expectations – I suggest this because I have looked and I have found. But sex is not an end in itself. Like I said, we tend to stop too soon, we draw conclusions on other’s faith instead of finding out for ourselves.
We think that the bible is always trying to make us control our passions (especially sexual ones), because they are too strong… actually the bible is trying to open our eyes to what heights of sustained ecstasy our passions can take us under the right bridle (if you’ll excuse the pun). We tend to settle for so little when we could have so much.

I think that what the bible says about sex is that finding Mr Right starts with finding the right God, it does not work the other way round. He’s not jealous of our sexuality, actually He designed sex to remind us of a happiness and fruitfulness we have forgotten so thoroughly that we cannot even remember having forgotten it!

Zeal & The Zeitgeist – Part 1

22 01 2008

Daniel is one of my favourite writings. His records are pivotal to the Bible collection. They contain a decent examination into the Hebrew, Babylonian, Median and Persian cultures and give us wonderful prophetic insight into the Greek and Roman cultures. They also explain the beginnings of the Eastern / Western development split and tells us why the Western ethos seems so unstoppable economically and politically.

Daniel gives us the differences in definition between what is ‘progress’ and what is mere ‘development’. Which come tantalisingly close to my problem with the evolutionary theory as an explanation of complexity and order. According to the theory one would expect to observe development, even entropy; but one does instead observe progress. Why is this? It is a problem for the theory as fatal to it, I believe, as its assumptions.

But anyway, that is not what this post is about. If you’re interested I’d like to take you on a bit of a tour of Daniel’s life. I’m not sure how many I’ll do but I will end up at the 4 cornerstones of Greek philosophy, Cynicism, Scepticism, Stoicism and Epicureanism. They form the Zeitgeist of our day, but I don’t want to jump ahead, I’ll get there eventually.

Most of us have been fortunate enough to have had a ‘Greek education’. By which we mean an academic organised presentation of the sciences and the arts to our senses in a disciplined and purposeful manner.
Amongst all the knowledge we have acquired (some more than others), our ‘Greek education’ has taught us how to Think Logically.
And Logical Thinking is Daniel’s grand prophetic prediction. Of course Logical Thinking is different to Lateral Thinking, as Edward de Bono pointed out to us, but they are extensions of the same foundation.

Now I have already said that I think that God’s dealings with Abraham caused a man, for the first time ever, to think in terms of Linear Time; and that eventually this concept caused the Hebrew nation to rise to power in Mesopotamia and then, when they stopped thinking this way and were sent in exile to Babylon some of them brought with them these thinking concepts which influenced the Babylonian, Median, Persian and eventually the Greek ethos (Some other time it would be good to look at the Hebrew influence on ancient Egypt). It is Daniel’s writing which lets us into some of the history of this influence in Eastern Mesopotamia and eventually on the formation of Greece, which has vast implications for our own Progress or Development, whichever we choose…